I didn't get the chance to see the 9-minute Star Trek Into Darkness prologue before my first screening of The Hobbit because I chose to see it in 48 frames per second rather than IMAX and in Arkansas you have to make those kind of choices. I was able to follow up with this preview of J.J. Abrams follow-up to his 2009 re-imagining of the Star Trek universe this past week though. Before seeing Abrams original film I was never attracted to the Kirk and Spock property. Never had I laid eyes upon a single episode or one of the prior films. I was always more of a Star Wars fan as a kid and always thought myself too late to catch up by the time I heard Hollywood was going to produce a new vision of it. For that reason I was thankful Abrams made a film that was apparently appeasing to the long time fans while catering to the newly ordained that would no doubt become fans. After experiencing that film it was hard not to become a fan but I have yet to go back and explore any more of the universe. Mainly for the reason that there seems to be so much and also for the fact my first introduction was a fresh take, a starting over if you will and so in many ways it seemed unnecessary to visit a different incarnation of these characters. I may decide at some point, when I have an abundance of time to take a look back on what I'm missing out on, but for the time being I'm sticking with this universe and enjoying it. This limited pool of knowledge does limit me to not picking up on what might have been clues within the first 9 minutes of the new film, but nonetheless I enjoyed the hell out of it and it truly offers everything you could want from 9 minutes of movie.

Seeing as the prologue has now been running for a week the rest of this article will discuss impressions from the footage. If you want to avoid spoilers or have not seen the prologue yet you have officially been warned. If not, go ahead and hit the jump...

We open on a futuristic Great Britain with the focus on a couple who clearly are not content as they wake in the morning. The film moves at a nice pace for the short introduction we do get including this scene that follows the couple quickly to a hospital, indicating their daughter is ill and as the father stands on a balcony  no doubt contemplating why he may lose his daughter we hear the voice of a man offering hope, offering an opportunity to save this mans child. It turns out to be Benedict Cumberbatch whose role as the villain in the film has been the source of the most debate. Many would like to believe he is Khan who is one of the few Star Trek baddies I had heard of prior to seeing the 2009 film. Though the studio has released a few stills giving the name John Harrison as the character Cumberbatch is portraying many also would like to believe this is a front a la Miranda Tate in The Dark Knight Rises. This is a complete possibility seeing as J.J. Abrams is at the helm and any avid film fan knows how much that guy loves to keep secrets and drop hints as to what might eventually be revealed in his films. The rumors of Khan might also be justified by the fact Benencio Del Toro was first sought after for the role that eventually went to Cumberbatch. Whoever he is playing the British actor seems to have captured a maniacal tone for the role and if we don't gather that from his short appearance in the prologue we do from his voice over in the trailer.

From this short sequence we are then taken to a new planet that is being called Nibru. The planet is draped in bright red nature, the trees, the plant life, all of it is a marvelous canvas of a complete alien planet to our own. The indigenous race of the planet are in danger as a volcano resting right above their civilization is getting ready to erupt. The film drops us right into the middle of the action this time.

It is a consensus the middle film in a trilogy seems to always be the best as it doesn't have the restrictions of setting everything up, introducing characters or wrapping the story together neatly as the first and last chapters do. Now, there is no need to assume Abrams is making a trilogy but the weight of exposition being lifted is clearly apparent in this opening. While the prologue for his first Star Trek outing is a great piece of cinema and establishes a connection to our main protagonist that will forever re-enforce our belief in his purpose this one establishes the crew of the USS Enterprise as their own family. The relationships seem to be fully fleshed out and the dynamics between each of them likely more reminiscent of what seasoned fans are accustomed to. The crew is already on a mission and the first 9 minutes give us a glimpse at how each of them are contributing to the task at hand.

Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) are stationed on the foreign planet working to pull the native race away from the volcano while Zachary Quinto as Spock is dropped into the heart of the volcano by Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Hikaru (John Cho) to try and prevent it from erupting. Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg are readying their ship for take off. The prologue doesn't so much as reveal anything as it does build suspense for what is to come and leaves us with a cliffhanger that we know won't necessarily end badly but doesn't resolve what will hopefully be a great conclusion to a rescue mission that places the brave, logical Vulcan in a difficult situation. As Kirk and Bones draw the nicely designed characters away from the volcano that will wipe them out they are also threatened as Kirk has taken something very precious to them, a document of some sorts that they worship. Reaching the edge of a cliff Kirk and Bones dive off and swim to what has been hiding beneath the planets ocean. There is no doubt fanboys will have many things to say regarding the Enterprise laying at the bottom of an ocean for two days but it makes it easily accessible for our heroes to board and rescue Spock after he does whatever it is he needs to do to stop the impending doom the volcano means to imply upon this planet.

Problem is, odds are not on Spock's side. He was disconnected from the ship that lowered him down into the heart of the natural destroyer. As the active volcano erupts around him we see him accept his fate while on board the ship Kirk has to make a decision that will either surely save them all or potentially kill everyone rather than just the Vulcan ready to accept the hand the universe has dealt him. It is unclear if this mission will have anything to do with the remainder of the film but that doesn't really matter. It is a well put together piece of film that starts quietly, with a somber mood and builds to a point that the entire audience will complain we have to wait until May to see the rest of it. It should also be noted that the 3D is used to its best advantage here. The skyscrapers of Britain, the weapons of the Nibru-people or the environment of an erupting volcano. Abrams uses the technology to enhance the peril with which our characters have been put in and to allow such a futuristic, strange world to feel all the more real. As the prologue comes to a close we get a montage of more scenes from the film, an extended trailer of sorts that hint at the large scope of the film while keeping us in the dark about where our heroes might be heading. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS opens in 3D and IMAX 3D on May 17, 2013. Watch the latest trailer here.            

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